Consistency: What Everyone Needs to Know

In a recent post at 200ProofLiberals, Jason Brennan issues the following challenge to defenders of COVID-19 lockdowns:

Did the Lockdowns Work?

Here’s a new paper by the excellent Christian Bjornskov arguing that they did not reduce mortality:

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3665588

Note that the defender of the lockdowns bears the burden of proof demonstrating otherwise. Simple post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning will not do. Do some social science, please. Also, when you try to justify them, please be sure to do a full cost-benefit analysis, taking into account lost schooling, the massive drop in GDP, lost jobs, increased suicides, reduced treatment for other diseases, increased child hunger, the re-emergence of tuberculosis, and so on.

There’s a lot wrong here, including the fact that the link Brennan cites doesn’t work.* But I was curious to see Brennan’s insistence that a response to “increased suicide” be included in any full-fledged defense of lockdowns. Continue reading

Bloomberg on “Stop and Frisk”: (Part 2 of 2)

I wrote this post back when Michael Bloomberg was still a presidential candidate. He dropped out of the presidential race on March 4. Soon after that, the pandemic struck. Consumed in the latter issue, I forgot that I’d written the second half of my “Bloomberg on Stop and Frisk” series. In some ways it’s dated, but in other ways not, so for whatever it’s worth, I’ve decided to run it now, six months after the fact. Sue me. 

In my last post on this topic, I distinguished between two different senses of “stop and frisk,” ordinary and Bloombergian, and argued that the distinction between them matters to our assessment of Michael Bloomberg as presidential candidate. On the one hand, it makes no sense to attack Bloomberg for his support of ordinary stop and frisk. To attack ordinary stop-and-frisk is to attack police work as such. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense to attack him for the specific version of it that prevailed when he was mayor of New York City. To attack Bloombergian stop and frisk is to attack a perversion of the real thing. Continue reading

COVID-19 Narratives (9): From Nebraska to New Jersey and Back

From Nebraska to New Jersey and Back: College Life Under Pandemic
Catherine Lentsch

The COVID-19 pandemic first became a reality for me when I was flying back from my home state of Nebraska to New Jersey after spring break. I was chatting with members of the Columbia University baseball team on our plane when they received a notification that Columbia was canceling school for the next few days, and would then be holding online classes for the next two weeks. We were all a bit shocked. It was a bit hard to believe that they’d cancel school over a virus. Nor was it clear what this meant for the future. Continue reading

Ex Parte Khawaja

A letter addressed to Mr Gregg I. Adelman, Principal of the firm Kaplin-Stewart, Attorneys at Law, of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.

Dear Mr Adelman:

This is not the first time I’ve informed your office that no one by the name of “Shane M. Loercher” lives at [my address]. Nor is it the first time I’ve informed your office that no one by that name has lived here since at least July 2018, when my wife and I first bought this property. I am not sure what is accomplished by repeatedly sending legal notices to a person who doesn’t live here and can’t read them, but whatever the aim, you may wish to re-think it. Continue reading

Giants and Dwarfs

Two years ago, my cousins Sa’ad and Salman (Khawaja Saad Rafiq and Khawaja Salman Rafiq) were arrested in Pakistan on charges of “corruption” by that country’s absurdly named NAB, or National Accountability Bureau. For two years (and not for the first time), they endured incarceration and vilification at the government’s hands. The first time this happened (to both of them), was during the military dictatorship of  General Zia-ul-Haq; the second time (for Sa’ad, but not Salman), was the military dictatorship of General Pervez Musharaff. This time, for both, was under Pakistan’s Trump-like civilian Prime Minister, Imran Khan.* Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

Continue reading

Can an Employer Unilaterally Change the Terms of an Employment Contract?

In a whiny blog post at 200 Proof Liberals addressed to his provost, Jason Brennan claims that you can’t enforce a contract which gives one side unilateral and unlimited power to change the terms of the contract. The context is a “compact” that Georgetown’s administration has imposed on students, faculty, and staff regarding the spread of COVID-19. Continue reading

“Freedom, Indeterminism, and Fallibilism”

My friend Danny Frederick asked me to post this conspectus of his new book, ‘Freedom, Indeterminism, and Fallibilism,’ now out from Palgrave.]

In my new book, Freedom, Indeterminism, and Fallibilism, published in the series ‘Palgrave Studies in Classical Liberalism,’ I employ the notions of indeterminism and fallibilism to give an account of the nature and value of freedom. There are chapters on free will, rationality, being a person, moral constraints, and political authority. Here I offer a sketch of that theory of freedom. Continue reading